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10 black podcasts we loved from 2019

The podcasts you’ve got to hear

This was a good year for podcast listeners, especially if you enjoy shows about sports and black culture. With so many options, The Undefeated is sharing its first list of black podcasts to check out.

We selected the 10 podcasts we loved in 2019, all of which are produced by and/or about black people and black culture. They’re diverse, well-researched and compelling stories that value blackness, whether celebratory or critical. We got you if you’re into debates, interviews or audio documentaries.

1619 by The New York Times — Award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones hosts a five-part podcast series commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans in the United States. Each episode is an audio documentary that complements the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones and other scholars share history and personal experiences to argue slavery’s connection to modern American life.

Juan EP by Endeavor Audio and Mass Appeal — This nine-episode season is a course on how Jay-Z became a household name. Hosts Cipha Sounds and Peter Rosenberg talk about everything from Jay-Z’s first hit to his controversial collaboration with the NFL.

Bill Rhoden on Sports (BROSpod) — Full disclosure, I am a regular contributor and help produce this independent show, where The Undefeated’s writer-at-large Bill Rhoden and co-host Jamal Murphy break down the latest sports news, such as the firing of former New York Knicks coach David Fizdale and 15-year-old Coco Gauff’s historic run at Wimbledon.

Making Beyoncé by WBEZ Chicago — The Making series looks at how some of our most successful cultural icons, such as Oprah Winfrey and former president Barack Obama became iconic. This season of Making is hosted by Jill Hopkins, a singer herself, who examines the start of Beyoncé’s career. In three episodes, we hear Knowles family archival recordings of a young Beyoncé singing, the start of Destiny’s Child and how her father, Matthew Knowles, helped the group land its first record deal.

The Right Time with Bomani Jones — Twice a week, Bomani Jones shares commentary on the major sports news of the day with a pinch of pop culture. He discusses the rise of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the NFL one episode and effortlessly switches to examine the recent tension between hip-hop heavyweights Kanye West and Jay-Z at Diddy’s 50th birthday.

The Stoop — Hosts Leila Day and Hana Baba examine questions about the black diaspora that have complex answers, for example, why some African Americans don’t swim or what tensions exist between black and non-black Muslims in America. Baba is Sudanese American and Day is African American. Together they tell stories that honor the kaleidoscope of blackness within the African diaspora.

Jemele Hill is Unbothered by Spotify — Undefeated alum and The Atlantic staff writer Jemele Hill is showing she can talk about more than sports. Twice a week she interviews some of the biggest names in sports, music, pop culture, and politics. Despite the name of the show, each episode concludes with an issue that actually bothers Hill.

The Nod by Gimlet— Host Brittany Luse describes the show as “blackness’ biggest fan.” Luse and co-host Eric Eddings discuss a variety of topics from mental health to HBO’s Watchmen to the history of the cha-cha slide, which is, as some say, the official dance of black America.

The Read by LoudSpeaker Network — On this weekly podcast, hosts Kid Fury and Crissle West spend the show highlighting black excellence. They also discuss celebrity news, for instance, why Eminem’s beef with Nick Cannon is annoying, and whether a reboot of the ’90s sitcom, Moesha, is a good idea.

Slow Burn: Biggie and Tupac by Slate — It’s been more than 20 years since rap legends Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. were killed, and questions about their unsolved murders remain. In eight episodes, host and ESPN alum Joel Anderson dives deep into the music of the rappers, the rivalries and the ’90s hip-hop scene.


Liner Notes

The Undefeated’s Rhoden Fellows, sports journalists from historically black colleges and universities, produce a weekly podcast that discusses sports and culture. 

Eryn Mathewson is the editorial coordinator for the Rhoden Fellows program. She enjoys coaching young journalists, writing and producing podcasts. When she's not working, she's probably running or watching "bad" TV.